[EXCERPTS] DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
Wednesday, April 9, 1997
Briefer: Nicholas Burns
I want to let you know that our Historians are releasing another
volume in the History of the Foreign Relations of the United States
series. This volume covers the period 1964 to 1968, "Arms
Control and Disarmament," and it focuses on the Outer Space
Treaty of 1967 and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1968
and some other significant arms negotiations in which the Lyndon
Johnson Administration participated, and that statement is
available to you in the Press Room.
QUESTION: Do you have any update on the U.S. food -
consideration of food request?
MR. BURNS: Carol, I think based on consultations that we've
had, meetings with the World Food Program and the FAO as well
as reports from a variety of U.S. Government sources, we had
some U.S. Government people on the Congressional delegations
that were in North Korea. There seems little doubt to the United
States that there is a serious and worsening food shortage in
North Korea. The evidence is too great to argue otherwise.
As we said yesterday, although we've not made any final
decisions, we are looking very seriously at the expanded request
for food assistance from the World Food Program. We're
consulting both within our own government but also consulting
with other countries on a response to that food program.
I just want to note that we've always responded positively to
requests, since 1995, from the World Food Program and that we
have been the largest contributor to the United Nations food
appeals for North Korea.
We understand the severity of the problem. We understand that
World Food Program appeal is going to be focused on children
age six and under. Surely, we all have a humanitarian imperative in
any kind of situation like this to try to be as helpful as we can to
young kids like that.
QUESTION: A couple of follow-ups to that. When do you
expect to make that decision? Have you pinned down a date on
the missile talks? And have you gotten a formal response from the
North Koreans on the Four-Party Proposal?
MR. BURNS: I would expect given the severity of the food
situation and the urgency of the appeal, the United States
Government decision will be made very soon, but I can't predict
when that day will be.
On the second question, we continue to talk to the North Koreans
about a date and a place for the missile talks. There is a reason for
these missile talks. We do have concerns, as you know - ongoing
concerns - about North Korean disposition of some of its
conventional - some of its missiles and missile technology. We
want to address those concerns with the North Koreans.
Bob Einhorn will lead our delegation. We hope to work out an
agreement very soon for when those talks can occur and where
they can occur.
On the last question, we've not yet heard back from the North
Koreans or anything further, but we do believe that there will be -
that they will hear shortly from the North Koreans about another
meeting. We hope very much the North Koreans will want to
move down the road towards Four-Party talks. That's our
MR. BURNS: Judd's got a follow-up on North Korea.
QUESTION: Nick, there are reports in New York that there's a
meeting scheduled for next week. Is that what you're referring to?
That shortly you'll hear about their -
MR. BURNS: We have not scheduled a meeting for next week
on the Four-Party talks. We always have week to week
consultations with the North Korean Mission up at the United
Nations. But I think we're talking about something different here.
What has really been in the works for the last couple of days is the
possibility of another meeting that would address the Four-Party
Proposal. I have no update to give you on that today. We still are
waiting. The ball is in their court. We're still waiting for an answer.
QUESTION: But "soon" applies to that meeting? We expect
MR. BURNS: We hope the meeting can be held as soon as
possible. Any more on North Korea before we go - you want to
finish up Zaire?
QUESTION: Bob Pelletreau, who is now a private citizen, made
a speech here yesterday and called for an increase of the existing
informal ties with Iran; said that U.S. should open up a wider
dialogue with Iran, and also indicated a lack of consensus in the
containment policy towards that country. Would you agree that
there is a lack of consensus within the Administration?
MR. BURNS: I respect Bob very much. I have not seen his
speech, so I don't want to be unfair to him and comment on his
speech. Our policy towards Iran has not changed and won't until
the Iranians change.
QUESTION: What kind of specific changes are you -
MR. BURNS: If they would end their direct support for
terrorism and their opposition to the Middle East peace process
and stop trying to build nuclear and chemical and biological
weapons, that would be a good starter for an improvement in
U.S.-Iranian relations. But as long as they're doing all three of
those things, there's not going to be a normal relationship between
the United States and Iran. We have a national interest in standing
up for all of those three things that I talked about.
QUESTION: But he has been the head of the Near Eastern
Bureau until very recently, so obviously I think Mr. Pelletreau
knows what he's talking about when he says that there are
different ideas within the Administration. Are you saying as the
spokesperson here that you do not expect any changes - or any
discussion at all on the Iranian policy?
MR. BURNS: I hope we have lots of discussion on Iran, but the
policy - Secretary Albright has reaffirmed the policy. The policy
stays where it is. The great thing about our government is you get
to debate inside the government, even if you don't agree with the
views, but then everyone's united once the decision is made by the
President and Secretary of State about what the policy would be.
The President and Secretary of State have given us a very clear
policy, and we all defend it. It's the right policy.